Here is an interesting view on using executives in sales meetings. We run into this all the time in small companies where the founder is acting as the CEO or CTO and has a desire to be involved in all aspects of the business. It is important from a sales perspective to know when and how to utilize executives to help achieve your objectives. Executives can be great assets to advancing a sale, but you have to bring them in at the right time. You also have to match the executive’s presence with the audience you are going to have. It doesn’t work well to have a CEO in a meeting with a group of staff engineers and operations managers. But if your next meeting is with the VP, then maybe it’s time to leverage your executive’s involvement.
Some common things we see from executives who insist on heavy involvement are:
- Perception from the customer that your company is too small, which could hinder your ability to close the deal. We have had situations where the CEO has insisted on being in attendance at an introductory meeting with a prospect, or on the first Webex call to demo software.
- Executives who take over a meeting, and completely disrupt your sales process and agenda. It is vitally important, as the article states, that you and your executive plan the meeting before hand, outline roles and responsibilities, and know what the objectives are.
- The notion from sales team members that the executive is not coachable, and that you have to take him for the way he is. This is typically not true, and is just a matter of having honest and open conversations in the planning process to define roles and responsibilities. A solid debrief after the meeting is also key, to see if objectives were met and to agree on follow up actions.
Executives can be a huge asset to closing a deal when they are used strategically. If you follow the guidelines highlighted in the article above, you should be able to increase your sales success and improve your positioning with your prospects.